Biofeedback in headache: An overview of approaches and evidence


Biofeedback-related approaches to headache therapy fall into two broad categories: general biofeedback techniques (often augmented by relaxation-based strategies) and methods linked more directly to the pathophysiology underlying headache. The use of general biofeedback-assisted relaxation techniques for headache has been evaluated extensively by expert panels and meta-analyses. Taken together, these reviews indicate that (1) various forms of biofeedback are effective for migraine and tension-type headache; (2) outcomes with biofeedback rival outcomes with medication therapy; (3) combining biofeedback with medication can enhance outcomes; and (4) despite efficacy in many patients, biofeedback fails to bring significant relief to a sizeable number of headache patients. Biofeedback methods that more directly target headache pathophysiology have focused chiefl y on migraine. These headache-specific approaches include blood volume pulse biofeedback, which has considerable supportive evidence, and electroencephalographic feedback.

Publication Title

Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine